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Day 5, Part 1 – Albuquerque, Car Transporters & 3-Legged Sydney

Since posting our first entries, we’ve thought of a few things that were noteworthy that we’d like to add –

  • Somewhere between Tennessee and Texas, we observed some graffiti. Why would that be noteworthy, you may ask?  Well, because it said “You are beautiful.”  I guess when you’re in the bible belt, mischief can take unusual and unexpected forms.
  • The ‘southern charm’ that was so tangible in eastern Tennessee gradually lessened over the course of our travels and was entirely absent in Albuquerque, NM. We noticed a big difference when we stopped at the Ole Sawmill Café – it’s not that people were rude; they were just less hospitable.  By the time we hit Oklahoma, the vibe felt almost downtrodden.  The service we received in Albuquerque was a mixed bag – more on that next.
About 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque, we pulled over at a rest stop.  It was VERY windy and had this neat cloud formation.

About 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque, we pulled over at a rest stop. It was VERY windy and had this neat cloud formation.

Ending Day 4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico

In assessing our morning’s drive for Day 5, we realized that if we called it a night in Moriarty, we would be driving through Albuquerque on a weekday during rush-hour traffic.  Thus, we pushed on and stayed the night in a Motel 6 on the western side of Albuquerque.

The Motel 6 room in Albuquerque had the same style aspects as the one in Van Buren, Arkansas.

The Motel 6 room in Albuquerque had the same style aspects as the one in Van Buren, Arkansas.

We requested a non-smoking room and opened the door to a room that spelled of serious stale cigarette smoke.  It felt gross.  Despite the intense bags under Brian’s eyes and his desire to just get some food and rest, I insisted that we switch rooms.  They gave us the room next door, which also smelled, but this time it was off chemical disinfectant.  I flipped the switch on the bathroom fan and the smell disappeared after a half hour (or I acclimated).  It was funny to find an ash tray in a non-smoking room.  Oh well….

We did not hit it off with the lady at the front desk.  She did not like my question about where dogs can go to the bathroom and she seemed upset when my response to her question about number of beds was “whatever is a better deal.”  When we switched rooms, she called shortly after to ask a few questions and scolded me for not confirming we had switched (although she hadn’t asked us to do that).  About 30 minutes later, at nearly 10pm, she called the room again to ask the same questions as the first call.

Her delivery felt terse and cold, much like what you might experience in New York or a similarly fast-paced city.  Albuquerque is a big city, so it might make sense.  Despite this introduction to Albuquerque, we were pleasantly surprised by the service we received at Denny’s.

Not a bad lineup for the week!

Not a bad lineup for the week!

A Grand Slam Experience

We entered Denny’s around 7:30am.  We were greeted by Anita, a lady with a warm and jolly way about her.  We don’t know what her background is, but she could play a Native America mother in a movie.  She smiled a lot and was incredibly attentive.  It was one of those service experiences where you feel like she should have a stake in the business.  If she had a stake in the business, however, she probably wouldn’t have told us the story of the Bold Coffee.

You know we enjoyed our breakfast when it's mostly eaten prior to the picture being taken.

You know we enjoyed our breakfast when it’s mostly eaten prior to the picture being taken.

Upon receiving a coffee refill, I remarked, “The coffee is quite good – heavy with a good flavor.”

Anita replied, “Yes, our coffee is strong here.  Would you like the Bold?  It’s even stronger.”

I responded, “No, no that’s okay.  This is very good.”

Anita then launched into her story…”When the Bold first arrived, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to have a cup of that.’  I had a cup….then the restaurant was dead for the next hour.  It must have been 6-7am.  Well, I’ll tell you, I had this whole place immaculate.  I worked so hard during that hour that I said to myself, “If I’m just getting normal pay and working this hard, I’m not having Bold Coffee again.”

Awesome

Breakfast was good.  Denny’s has a ‘build your own grand slam’ section which was amenable to our slow-carb/paleo lifestyle.  For $6.99, you can select any 4 items (most of which include 2 pieces) which gives you great flexibility in designing your own breakfast and not worrying about making substitutions.  Brian ordered sausage (2), bacon (2), and eggs (4).  I ordered sausage (2), turkey bacon (2), eggs (2) and egg whites (2).  Everything tasted excellent.  Also, Brian liked the Cholula Hot Sauce.

Anita insisted on filling our travel mugs AND my water bottle so that we’d be “loaded up for our trip”.  A service experience like this is one that helps you redefine how you tip.  We have eaten out a lot and over all the years, we have had 2 experiences (only two!) that stand out as stupendous and qualify for generous tipping.  It’s easy to get in a routine and mindset where you tip everybody the same.  However, once you’ve had a super fantastic experience, you’ll likely discover a new standard of excellence.

The final 5 hours in the initial crossing

We hit the road shortly after 8am with a destination of Payson, Arizona.  Our original plan had us going to Silver City, NM first because it is on the way west and we have never been there before.  However, the car transporter gave us an expected delivery date of Tuesday so we modified our plans and headed directly to its delivery location.

One of the many majestic rock formations along I-40.

One of the many majestic rock formations along I-40.

Since we do not have a new address at which to dump our belongings, part of our planning included making sure our box of stuff and our second car were somewhere safe while we explored the 3 cities.  Payson is the most central of the 3 cities so we wanted to send everything there.  However, its small size meant it had no U-haul facility so we were forced to send the box to Prescott.  The car is going to Payson so that we can leave it in my sister’s driveway until our journey is complete.

Car Transporters

A side note about our experience having the car transported –  It’s really too bad one can’t get access to this mysterious ‘dispatch board’ that the brokers refer to.  As you’ll read, such access would simply things a great deal.  From our experience, the process for having your car transported goes something like this:

  • Google car transporters and call around to get quotes
    • The representatives on the phone give you a number. In some cases, this is the exact cost.  In other cases, the small print states that the cost could go up depending on the demands of the driver/carrier.
    • This makes you want to speak to the driver directly but that’s not how the system works. The broker puts your car on a board where drivers can make bids to take the job.  The broker than takes a percentage or a flat fee from what you’d pay the driver.
  • Review companies on transportreviews.com
    • In some unfortunate reviews, we noticed that you can agree to a price but the driver can request more upon arriving to pick up your car. They base the price adjustment on whatever they feel like – difficulty of your driveway, time line, etc.  Having already made the decision to go with them, you’d likely feel obligated to just pay the increase.
    • We have also read cases where the price increases between the car being picked up and dropped off.
    • Moral of the story – read the small print and sign an agreement. At least if you have something on paper, you can take legal action if necessary.
  • Pick a transporter.
    • We went with DIYTransport.com. They had a page of discounts where they stated they would match the price of any company with a 4 or 5 star rating.  We got a quote of $1200 from a company that seemed very sketchy on the phone (the price fluctuated from $900 – $1200 in the course of a few hours) but that had decent ratings online.  We asked the DIYTransport.com if they’d match it and they agreed.
    • They took a fee of $195 from the $1200 and the rest is due upon delivery, to the driver, in cash or cashier’s check.
  • Pick-up and delivery
    • The scheduling is tricky. Depending on the company, they request a 1-7 day window during which to pick up your car.  This can be annoying if you’d like to depend on the availability of your car until the day you leave.  com stated that the car would be picked up within 1-5 days and requested the earliest pickup date.  We told them Wednesday would be the earliest we’d like to release the car.
    • As of Thursday morning, the company still hadn’t contracted a carrier. We decided not to wait around and asked Brian’s mom to be our proxy and meet the driver (whenever he did arrive).
    • We received a call on Thursday afternoon, as we were loading our final batch of belongings into the u-box. The dispatcher said she had a driver and he’d be there tomorrow, Friday.  We had no intention of losing another day so we gave her the address for Brian’s mom and we hit the road.
    • When we spoke to the truck driver (a friendly sounding guy named Earl), he said he’d have the car in Payson by Tuesday. We were surprised by his flexibility in the delivery location.  Several companies we spoke to said they wouldn’t deliver to Payson because it’s way out in the middle of nowhere.  In many cases we were told we’d have to choose between Flagstaff and Phoenix, both of which are beyond the range of the electric car.  Considering the inconvenience it would be to have to plan multiple charge points, we were relieved when the dispatcher came through and connected us to Earl.
Car transporters are seen frequently on the interstate so they're aren't too interesting.  Boat transporters, on the other hand, are a rare treat.

Car transporters are seen frequently on the interstate so they’re aren’t too interesting. Boat transporters, on the other hand, are a rare treat.

One last note about Albuquerque

Don’t trust the gravel!  We were told not to let the dogs use the grass as their restroom and to instead use the gravel.  The area is obviously desert, which means grass is limited and cacti injuries are possible

Sydney is a bit of a wild thing when on a retractable leash.  As long as she is responsive to me, I generally let her run to the end of it because she gets more exercise that way (visualize a horse being lunged around in a circle; that’s what Sydney does the entire time).  During this morning’s poop endeavor, we were strolling through the gravel, waiting for the dogs to do their thing.

I unexpectedly stepped on something sharp and looked down to find a very small, prickly, cactus-like plant.  My shoes and skin were unscathed so we proceeded, this time with more awareness.  Immediately after, Sydney stopped being wildly energetic and started walking like a normal dog (weird).  A moment later, she started walking as fast as she could (attempting to regain her status as wildest creature in the pack) but this time with only 3 legs.  She is very good at moving quickly with one foot held up.

I went over to inspect the afflicted paw.  I removed two very sharp burrs that were gently clingy to the hair around her pads and resumed the walk.  She immediately put that food down and lifted up her rear right foot, again moving as fast as possible.  Again, I went over to inspect the situation, found more burrs and helped her set off again.  For a third time, she took off, this time with another leg held against her body.  I removed the burrs from the 3 foot and was amazed that initially, she had been walking quickly with three afflicted paws.  She is one determined Australian Shepherd.

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